10/19/2020, 10.40
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Moscow boosts relations with Central Asia, to exclusion of the US

by Vladimir Rozanskij

In a videoconference between foreign ministers of the five Central Asian states and Russia, the proposal of closer relations between the Russian Federation and the region as a single bloc. Common positions in the political-diplomatic sphere; no demand for improvement of human and minority rights. Attempt to steal airspace from the US.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - On October 15, a videoconference was held with the foreign ministers of Russia and five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), the so-called CA + 1 format.

With it, Moscow proposes to go beyond the formula of bilateral relations, and to consider Central Asia as a single region in relations with the Russian Federation.

The US had long ago proposed a similar approach, but Russia seems to have a better chance of achieving it, thanks to the Soviet heritage that binds it to these countries, where the same Russian language is still widely spoken.

In times of revolutions and regime changes throughout the ex-Soviet space - which still shake several countries such as Kyrgyzstan itself - Putin's Russia tries to shore up the imperial dimension that has distinguished it for several centuries, especially beyond the Urals, to show the aggregative capacity of the so-called “Russian world”, the main perspective of Putin's foreign policy.

After the meeting on October 15, the dialogue of CA + 1 governments should become stable and wide-ranging.

The five Central Asian countries have long maintained collective relations with the US, but also with the European Union and Japan. Particular strategies have been developed for this geopolitical framework, as the Americans did with a five-year plan for 2020-2025. Russia's new approach, which resulted in a policy document prepared in Moscow, shows that Russia is not only the "+1" of the group, but the real driving force.

Unlike the American and European plans, the Russian proposal does not insist on the necessary development of democracy in the various countries, seen as an unsuitable “liberal” model.

The same happens with regard to the protection of human rights and minorities, which are also not much loved either in Russia or in the so-called "Mongolian triangle" of ancient Khorahmiia.

Instead, common positions are supported in the political-diplomatic sphere, with constant procedures of collective consultation, also at the level of international bodies such as the UN and the various world agencies on the hottest issues of politics and society.

The document guarantees mutual respect for the integrity and internal security of the various countries, with promises of mutual aid in case of need. The six countries of the group undertake not to make their territory, air and sea space available for war needs not directly linked to their interests, to other countries outside the region and above all to the USA.

The Americans are in fact discussing the possibility of flying some routes over these areas with their own military and observation aircraft, especially in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, for corridors to and from Afghanistan.

Russia is proposing a closer collaboration in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and arms smuggling, and also in the sphere of increasingly intense cyber wars, in this era of "hybrid" campaigns.

Great space is given to commercial cooperation programs and to the development of transport in the region, currently severely compromised by the limitations for Covid-19.

The proposal to ease customs procedures between Russia and Central Asia is particularly important for Moscow to circumvent American sanctions.

These programs point to Russia’s plans to expand the Eurasian Union already active with Kazakhstan and Belarus, also considering the uncertain scenarios of the traditional ally in Minsk, where the protest against President Lukashenko shows no sign of stopping.

On October 18, mass demonstrations were again held not only in the capital, but in various cities of Belarus, this time with the title of "March of the partisans". As much as the Belarusian police and Omon departments try hard to stifle the protests and arrest many people, the regime change movement continues apace.

Moreover, even in Kyrgyzstan the newly installed government does not offer many guarantees of stability and fidelity to its commitments with Moscow.

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